The government has created a National Centre for Climate Services to streamline its response to the challenges and risks of an overheating planet.
In the face of a fast-changing alpine landscape, the Swiss move to set up a new coordinating body reflects the complexity of dealing with climate change.
Its task will be to gather existing knowledge that can help Swiss officials, politicians, businesses and others “to recognise the risks and opportunities”, the government said in a statement on Mondayexternal link.
That is also meant to optimise the costs of adjusting to melting glaciers and warmer winters.
The term “climate services” refers to the research-based information on the changing climate and its consequences that can be used in decision-making. The new Swiss centre, based in the Zurich headquarters of the weather service MeteoSwissexternal link, will also serve “as an interface between science and practical applications”, the statement said.
Focus and dialogue
Among the areas the centre will focus on are water resources, natural hazards, trees and farm pests. It also will be asked to design scenarios for extreme climatic events, which can be used to prepare better for hazards and civil protection.
To improve communication, the move will also provide a centralised platform at www.nccs.ch for all practical and regularly updated information and data on the climate.
As part of the cabinet’s action plan for adapting to climate change, the centre is also being asked to coordinate interdisciplinary approaches. It will be responsible for hosting events that promote the exchange of knowledge and identify areas of research in need of more attention.
Key questions include the effects of more precipitation and flooding; how water resources will change; whether there will be more agricultural losses from pests; how much worse heat waves might become; and which types of trees might fare best.
The centre grew out of the World Meteorological Organisationexternal link’s 2009 global framework for climate services. The initiative by the Geneva-based United Nations weather agency is meant to develop and apply science-based climate information and services that aid in decision-making.
The framework’s development involved 13 heads of state or government, 81 foreign ministers and 2,500 scientists.
Making it work in Switzerland involves coordination among the federal offices of meteorology, environment and agriculture, MeteoSwiss, the Federal Office for Civil Protection, the federal technology institute ETH Zurich and the Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research.